It is sometimes difficult to justify coming up for air and taking the time to evaluate products that are still very much in motion. In the case of SharePoint 2013, however, it wasn’t hard at all. Acrowire has recognized the value SharePoint brings to the table for a very long time, but we decided to put serious resources into our practice when Office 365 released in Summer of 2011. Prior to that point SharePoint Online was too limited to build robust solutions on the platform. With Office 365’s roll out of SharePoint 2010 that picture began to change.
There were (and still are) quite a few limitations to what you can do with SharePoint Online compared to on-prem but that gap continues to narrow. We believe the gap will narrow even further as the 2013 feature set is integrated to SharePoint Online. Below are some notes from our analysis of the new platform.
In eDiscovery, SharePoint maintains cases, which for example are lawsuits or potential legal actions. These cases are organized into collections, for example collections by year, by division, or even by persons or groups.
Each case has one or more discovery sources, which are either mail boxes or web sites. Each such source is assigned to a custodian, a person associated with the source.
The case also has a set of searches that are applied to the sources to find relevant information. These searches and their queries will go through the sources and discover information that can be added to the case.
Client Object Model Extensions
The Client Object Model (COM) gets a major overhaul in SharePoint 2013. Some notable areas are a) SharePoint Education (see more below), b) Publishing Framework, c) BCS and d) Search.
SharePoint App Market Place
SharePoint Apps will support multi-tenancy. It appears that Apps will support both sandboxed and farm solutions.
Work Management Services
Work management services handle tasks assigned to users. From my cursory understanding at this point work management services provide extended capabilities for managing, creating, reordering, deleting, and creating tasks, as well as synchronizing tasks with other platforms (at least Exchange is documented).
Content Management Service
The Publishing service lives on – now under the Content Management service, along with features such as managed metadata, document transformations, and the aforementioned eDiscovery.
Minimal Download Framework
Briefly what the MDS does is that it allows users to load only what changes between pages. This drastically reduces page load time and speeds up responsiveness for the entire application.
New here is the addition of a JSLink attribute on SharePoint 2013 forms. According to the documentation, the JSLink attribute specifies the script used in rendering the form. JSLink may prove to be an easier way to add scripts to a form rather than having to resort to jQuery making client side customizations easier
SharePoint Education aims at satisfying educational institutions’ needs for a collaborative and educational environment. It seems to target the needs of both faculty and students, and supports features such as:
- academic documents, likely books, articles, and so on
- communities, a new grouping mechanism, ‘parent’ of courses
- courses, a collection of academic documents, assignments, and lessons
- assignments, including assigning assignments to individual students
- events, possibly real-time lectures and assignment deadlines
- meetings, including recording of online meetings and meeting schedules
- grades, numeric or non-numeric (letter)
Despite having a distinct academic feel to it, SharePoint Education should be usable for organizational training too. Because of the ease of extensibility, and because SharePoint Education uses only ‘plain’ SharePoint objects, it should be easy to either modify the product to organizations’ needs, or build extensions to cover anything that doesn’t come out-of-the-box.
SharePoint 2013 Beta
Looks like the public beta will arrive the beginning of July 2012.
Because the ASP.NET 2.0 and ASP.NET 4.0 aren’t interchangeable, code written to run in SharePoint 2007 and SharePoint 2010 won’t work for SharePoint 2013 if Microsoft decides to go with ASP.NET 4.0 for the new version….
Update – Looks like it will be ASP.NET 4.0 – Now because SharePoint 2013 requires .NET 4.0, and .NET 2.0 won’t run .NET 4.0 code, this means that any code written to interact with SharePoint 2013 will not work on previous versions. This means that developers who want to support both current and future versions of SharePoint will need to maintain two sets of code.
SharePoint 2013 will support Push notifications for clients such as mobile phones. These clients will register with SharePoint and then subscribe to notifications from the server. Subscriptions for Push notifications are scoped to individual sites (web).
A new web service for document sharing, aptly named Document Sharing Web Service (DOCSWS) appears in the document management features of SharePoint 2013. Document owners can now choose to generate anonymous links for a document in a document library. These links can be used by anonymous users to either read or edit the document, depending on the permissions that the document owner sets.
SharePoint 15 should arrive in early 2013 along with Office 15 and most of the related products and servers, like Exchange, Lync, Project, and so on.
SharePoint Online 2013
Here are some of the features likely to be part of the release:
- SharePoint Duet: A cloud version of the Duet add-on developed by Microsoft and Microsoft that allows SharePoint to integrate with SAP applications
- Support for viewing business intelligence content on Apple iPad devices
- Improved Web Apps: With the 15 release, Office Web Apps won’t be running from the SharePoint “farm.” Instead the Webified versions of Microsoft’s Office apps will run from a new Office Web Apps Server. Third party developers will be able to tie into the Office Web Apps service and provide access to documents stored in IBM FileNet, OpenText, and Oracle
- Metro user interface: Tiles in site collections will display more information when you hover your mouse over them, in a Metro-like style
- Rights Management Services (RMS): RMS is being integrated into SharePoint Server 12 (and Exchange Server 15). Sounds like the same is happening with the cloud versions of these products. It seems RMS on the cloud side also might be available as an add-in or separate SKU
- Project Online: New Project site to manage lightweight projects.
- It also sounds as though there will be a Visio cloud service component, too.
- Supposedly there will also be a heavy dependence on Azure too.
SharePoint 2013 will have a Metro user interface. What this means is highly uncertain, but it seems reasonable that Microsoft will want to keep a single theme to their user interfaces.
SharePoint Online users with iPads will get an added ability to view business intelligence content. It’s not clear what this entails beyond the regular ability to read web content on the iPad, though.